WASHINGTON – U.S. immigration officials are defending new citizenship rules for children born to some American military and federal employees serving outside of the country.

But the administration is facing criticism for the change and the way it was announced.

The children born to non-citizen parents will now have to return to the United States, physically live in the country for 5 years, then apply for citizenship before the child turns 18.

This includes children of legal permanent residents.

“Our service men and women give everything for this country and this is the respect that President Trump shows them,” says former Vice President and Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden.

The initial online memo announcing the change caused an uproar at U.S. installations around the world. 

Immigration officials had to clarify that the rule change will not apply to the children of U.S. citizens.

“We have a lot of non-U.S. citizens in the military,” said Lawrence Korb, former Assistant Secretary of Defense.

Korb is a former Assistant Secretary of Defense, retired Navy captain, and with the Center for American Progress.

“In fact, without immigrants in the military, we wouldn’t be able to maintain our volunteer military,” Korb said.

Korb says the change may actually discourage military service.

“Well if those men and women are overseas and their children are not U.S. citizens, whereas if they had stayed in the United States they would be, that is a policy that undermines rationality and military readiness,” said Korb.
Immigration officials say they don’t believe the new rule creates more burdens for immigrants who serve our country.

Immigration officials also say the State Department asked for the change.

The new rules will apply to children born after October 29.